The government must do more to prevent peatlands from releasing thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions, says countryside charity CPRE.
Peatlands can store vast amounts of carbon in a stable form, acting as some of the largest carbon sinks on the planet.
However, due to, burning, draining and degradation, peatlands are now estimated to be responsible for 55% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
CPRE has criticised the government’s current commitment to restore 35,000 hectares of peatland by 2025 as not going far enough.
CPRE is calling on the government to do more to protect these environments in the forthcoming England Peat Strategy by:
- Bringing to an end further degradation of peat by 2030 in line with existing commitments to sustainably manage all soils by 2030.
- Committing to ambitious national targets for rewetting and restoration of upland and lowland peatlands in England to secure their carbon stores by 2030
- Supporting a managed transition away from destructive use of lowland peat soils over the next decade as part of green recovery by investing in wet farming research
- Developing new markets and projects for wet farming products.
Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at CPRE, said: ‘It’s no wonder peatlands are often referred to as the UK’s rainforests.
‘Properly managed peatland stores huge amounts of carbon and water and provides a haven for plant and wildlife. But continuing to neglect these natural carbon stores could backfire.
‘The government has paid too little attention to emissions from peatland – as things stand, they aren’t even properly included in current emissions monitoring.
‘This seriously threatens the effectiveness of other nature-based solutions, like tree planting, in tackling the climate emergency.
‘We need to harness the power of all of our natural allies in the fight against runaway climate change. With the right investment, peat could play a pivotal role in tackling the climate and nature emergencies.
‘For this, we not only need much greater levels of investment from government in restoring or rewetting peatlands, but we also need a strategy for a fair and managed transition to move businesses away from dependency on destructive use of peatlands’
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